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Astros GM: Current roster can win it all

Astros still looking at starting pitching, catching depth before Deadline
@brianmctaggart
July 22, 2019

HOUSTON -- If the Astros are going to acquire a starting pitcher to add to front-end starters Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley, it likely won’t happen until close to the July 31 Trade Deadline, president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow said on Monday. Luhnow said

HOUSTON -- If the Astros are going to acquire a starting pitcher to add to front-end starters Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley, it likely won’t happen until close to the July 31 Trade Deadline, president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow said on Monday.

Luhnow said the Astros are seeking a postseason-caliber starting pitcher, as well as exploring options for catching depth, but added he feels the Astros as they are currently constructed are good enough to win the World Series. Marcus Stroman, Robbie Ray, Madison Bumgarner and Matthew Boyd are among the pitchers the Astros could be pursuing.

“We can win with this team the way it is today,” Luhnow said. “Usually in a playoff series, you use three or four starters, but you can sometimes use three. When you have a Verlander and Cole 1-2 punch and you have Miley pitching as well as he has, and then you’ve got the bullpen that we have, we can win a seven-game series against any playoff team right now.

“That doesn’t mean there’s not going to be an opportunity if it presents itself to bring in another starter who could be a playoff-rotation starter. We’ll look at him. We have been. Nothing’s done yet. I can’t really forecast whether we will or not. In 2017, everybody thought we needed a starter. We didn’t get one on July 31 and we did get one on Aug. 31 [in Verlander]. That was no slam dunk, either. We got a little lucky there, too.”

Unlike two years ago, when the Astros acquired Verlander, there is now only the July 31 Trade Deadline. Teams won’t be able to acquire players via trade in August.

The Astros have used openers and rookies Jose Urquidy and Rogelio Armenteros to fill out the final two spots of their rotation since the All-Star break. Urquidy, who threw seven strong innings on Saturday for his first big league win, will start again on Friday in St. Louis. The Astros will only need four starters through the Deadline.

“It’s good those guys are showing they can contribute,” Luhnow said. “We’re going to continue to look at opportunities to improve the club like we do every year, and there is a long way to go. It feels like not much has happened yet, but I have a feeling things will pick up here as we get close to the Deadline.”

Luhnow said the Astros would also like to bolster their catching situation. Starter Robinson Chirinos is hitting just .159 with no homers in his last 23 games, dropping his average to .220 for the season. Max Stassi is “an elite framer,” Luhnow said, but he’s hitting .159 this season.

“It would mean one of the two guys we have now would not be on this team,” Luhnow said. “We obviously have to consider that very carefully.”

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.